Ask Google ‘does yoga keep you young?’ and you’ll find no shortage of online articles along the lines of ‘top ten poses for longevity’. With many diseases now curable, most of us in the west are becoming increasingly worried about growing old and living healthily into our later years. This comes as some even warn there may be a drop in average lifespan due to rising levels of obesity.

Age isn’t really the issue of course, and the old adage we are as old as we feel still rings true. A consensus seems to be emerging that longevity is 20% or less genetic, and the rest down to lifestyle. Unfortunately, unhealthy lifestyles are starting earlier in life, with many people eating too much of the wrong foods, and taking too little exercise – and/or suffering rising levels of stress.

This is where yoga comes in (along with diet and so on) as it offers an all-round stretch and tone to the body, plus relaxation, as does dance, another oft-cited source of good health.

One of the key aspects of yoga is its focus on using the core of the body, not just in the sense of strengthening muscle, but also in working on stability combined with ability to balance.  Even as early on as our 30s, strength and flexibility soon diminish if we lead sedentary desk-bound lifestyles. As our core structure is lost, so is the natural springiness of youth.

Never too late to start practising yoga

But there is hope! It’s never too late to start a gentle yoga routine incorporating postures that improve our balance and help build strength throughout the body. Our intention is not a power based gym style workout that fixates on individual muscles, but to lift and tone from within. Alongside this, we can work on maintaining and improving balance, and with this the ability to recover quickly when we lose our balance, and thus avoid falls.

Last week, we practised two asanas, Warrior 3 and Boat pose, a standing and a sitting balance, that do just this. We’ll continue this week with a sequences of asanas that will further improve the ability to retain core stability as we move the body’s centre of gravity.